In Depth

Theresa May rejects calls to increase Indian visa quota

Prime Minister says UK already has a 'good system' as she visits Delhi to foster post-Brexit trade links

Boris Johnson backs Andrea Leadsom for Tory leadership election

5 July

Boris Johnson has thrown his support behind Andrea Leadsom for Tory leader, a move that "could end Michael Gove's hopes of becoming prime minister", says the Daily Telegraph.

"Andrea Leadsom offers the zap, the drive and the determination essential for the next leader of this country," said the former London mayor, who was seen as frontrunner for the post himself.

"She is level-headed, kind, trustworthy, approachable and the possessor of a good sense of humour. She has specialised in the EU question and successfully campaigned for Leave and will be well placed to help forge a great post-Brexit future for Britain and Europe."

Many of Johnson's former backers may now follow his lead and back the energy minister, dealing Gove a significant blow, says the Telegraph.

Johnson's support comes after his former campaign manager, MP Ben Wallace, wrote in the Telegraph that Gove had "an emotional need to gossip, particularly when drink is taken".

Leadsom has already been placed as the new frontrunner by a self-selecting poll of Conservative activists by the ConservativeHome website, with the support of 38 per cent of party members, one per cent more than Home Secretary Theresa May.

However, Buzzfeed News reports that her performance at the hustings, held at the Conservative's 1922 committee meeting, left a lot to be desired.

One cabinet minister told the website Leadsom was grilled over her links to Ukip and the controversial campaign group Leave.EU, which is endorsing her leadership bid.

"When you're asked to say you're not Ukip at a hustings to be leader of the Conservative Party, you're in trouble," he said. "It was a car crash."

In comparison, May was warmly received by her fellow party members with banging on tables - and even windows and doors.

Tory MPs will today start whittling down the five candidates - Leadsom, May, Gove plus Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox - to just two.

The wider party membership will then choose who they want as leader, with the winner announced on 9 September.

Ukip accused of hatching latest Tory leadership election plot 

4 July

Ukip is "plotting" to install Andrea Leadsom as leader of the Conservatives and the UK's next prime minister, according to supporters of fellow candidate Theresa May.

And, as the leadership race dominates the news, Boris Johnson's former campaign manager has claimed that No 10 hopeful Michael Gove has an "emotional need to gossip, particularly when drink is taken".

Leadsom - the "Brexit candidate"

Energy Secretary Leadsom does not enjoy the same level of support among Conservative MPs as Home Secretary Theresa May, but she has emerged as the "Brexit candidate" in the leadership race after saying she would like the UK to be out of the European Union by next spring.

Her plans are likely to play well with party members, who are thought to have voted two to one in favour of leaving the EU. 

Leadsom has refused to rule out giving Ukip leader Nigel Farage a place on the British team that will hold formal negotiations with Brussels over the UK's exit from the EU – and she has won the backing of businessman Arron Banks, one of the biggest donors for both Ukip and the Leave campaign.

Banks claimed yesterday that his campaign group can communicate directly with 20 per cent of the Tory membership via social media.

All this amounts to a "plot" in the eyes of some of May's supporters, says The Times. While the Home Secretary is a long-term Eurosceptic, she campaigned for the UK to remain within the EU and so is seen as the anti-Brexit candidate most MPs want.

Leadsom herself has dismissed the claims. "I don't think it's fair to say that I'm just being funded by Ukip," she told the BBC. "I am delighted by the wide range of support and actually very particularly from young people."

Gove "leaked like a sieve"

Former Leave campaigner Michael Gove is, like Leadsom, an outside bet for the leadership, lacking the support of his parliamentary colleagues. His odds may lengthen further today after a character assassination by a fellow Tory MP.

Ben Wallace, who managed Boris Johnson's short-lived campaign to be PM, has written in the Daily Telegraph that the Justice Secretary can't be trusted to lead the country because he has an "emotional need to gossip, particularly when drink is taken".

"From the minute Michael Gove came on board with Boris's leadership campaign, things started to go wrong," he says. "There was a leak a day in the press."

Gove's "office leaked like a sieve" when he was chief whip, continues Wallace, before adding the killer line: "Michael seems to have an emotional need to gossip, particularly when drink is taken, as it all too often seemed to be.

"UK citizens deserve to know that when they go to sleep at night their secrets and their nation's secrets aren't shared in the newspaper column of the prime minister's wife the next day, or traded away with newspaper proprietors over fine wine."

Gove's chances of becoming leader are already diminishing, with May by far the favoured candidate among MPs and Leadsom her main potential challenger. Wallace's intervention makes things even worse.

Johnson 'knifed' by Gove: What went on behind the scenes

01 July

After days of behind-the-scenes wrangling in the wake of last week's Brexit vote, Boris Johnson yesterday announced he was not running to be the next Conservative leader.

Supporters including MPs Nadine Dorries and Nadhim Zahawi "stared in open-mouthed shock" as he made his declaration in London yesterday, says the Daily Mail, while "journalists sprinted from the room to report the news".

Johnson took no questions but immediately left - through a door above which an exit sign had been covered up "shrewdly (and probably illegally)… by his team to avoid the obvious photo opportunity", says the Daily Telegraph.

According to the Mail, the former London mayor had still been set to run just an hour before the morning press conference, which had been called to announce his candidacy, not his decision to quit.

But at 9am, Michael Gove called Johnson's political strategist, Sir Lynton Crosby, to deliver his bombshell: he had decided to run himself, rather than support his fellow Brexter in return for a plum cabinet job.

Crosby told Johnson he had to abandon his ambitions: without the more intellectually-credible Gove, he would lose the support of too many MPs - and newspapers.

Johnson began his address yesterday with a quotation from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. In retrospect, he was clearly thinking of Gove as Brutus, stabbing his leader in the back, says the Telegraph.

And he ended by saying the next Tory leader would have to unify the party and secure Britain's place in the world, adding: "But I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that that person cannot be me."

Macbeth - or student union politics?

Johnson's supporters quickly dubbed Gove's about-turn the "cuckoo nest plot", suggesting he had long planned to desert his fellow Brexit campaigner. According to the Telegraph, some think the Justice Secretary recruited Johnson to the Leave cause and then rode his coat-tails before abandoning him.

Gove and his wife, Sarah Vine - who may or may not have deliberately leaked a campaign email expressing doubts about Johnson - are like Lord and Lady Macbeth, Scotland's former first minister Alex Salmond said in the Commons yesterday.

But the Telegraph says that unlike Macbeth, Gove may not have been motivated purely by ambition. The MP is ideologically committed to Brexit, says the paper, and may have decided Johnson had "gone soft" and would try to keep the UK in the EU in all but name. Gove had previously denied he wanted the top job, saying in May 2016: "I don’t want to do it and there are people who are far better equipped than me to do it."

Conservative MP Sir Edward Garnier made a less dramatic comparison. "It just reminds me of student union politics. I can't be dealing with this and I think it's shameful," he said. 

Another pro-Johnson Tory, Jake Berry, said: "There is a very deep pit reserved in hell for such as [Gove]." 

James Cleverly apparently fought back tears as Johnson announced his decision before attacking Gove: "Some people seem to think House of Cards is a training manual," he said.

A poll for Sky News today suggests Home Secretary Theresa May is still the public's preferred choice. She also has the support of many more Tory MPs than Gove or the other three rivals for the job: Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom and Stephen Crabb.

Launching her bid yesterday, May insisted that "Brexit means Brexit" and said there would be no general election before 2020.

Tory leader race: Why has Boris Johnson bowed out?

30 June

Former London mayor Boris Johnson has ruled himself out of the race to replace Prime Minister David Cameron.

The announcement has left the battle for the Conservative leadership "dramatically transformed", says the Daily Telegraph, with Home Secretary Theresa May now competing against Justice Secretary Michael Gove after he announced his surprise bid this morning.

It's long been thought that Johnson had his eye on No 10, so why has he pulled out at the very last minute?

He himself said he does not think he is the right person for the job. Speaking to reporters just moments before the deadline for nominations passed, he said the next Tory leader would have to unify the party and the country's Leave and Remain supporters to ensure Britain stood tall in the world.

"Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me," he said.

One theory is that Cameron has left a "poisoned chalice" by refusing to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty immediately after the EU referendum, despite promising to do so during campaigning.

Instead, he has said it is a job for the next prime minister, passing the risks onto somebody else.

"Cameron has effectively snookered the Brexit camp," argues Jon Henley in The Guardian.

"They may have won the referendum, but they cannot use the mandate they have been given because if they do so they will be seen to be knowingly condemning the UK to recession, break-up and years of pain."

On his Jack of Kent blog, lawyer David Allen Green raises the possibility that the Article 50 notification could be put off indefinitely, something that would lose any future PM support with Brexit voters.

Meanwhile, Channel 4's Gary Gibbon suggests Gove did a "double Brutus" this morning. By announcing his plans to stand in the race himself, rather than support his fellow Brexiter Johnson, he "abruptly arrested and probably completely destroyed Boris Johnson's chances of becoming PM".

Tory leader race latest: Boris Johnson out but Michael Gove in

30 June

Former London mayor Boris Johnson has ruled himself out of the Conservative leadership race, while his fellow Brexit campaigner Michael Gove has announced he will stand.

After arguing it would be vital for the next prime minister to bring together everyone who has campaigned for Remain and Leave, Johnson said: "Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament I have concluded that person cannot be me."

Earlier in the morning, Gove announced his candidacy, saying he had arrived at "the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead".

He added: "In the next few days I will lay out my plan for the United Kingdom which I hope can provide unity and change."

It was a surprise decision as Gove has repeatedly said he did not wish to be prime minister.

Johnson was said to have the backing of 100 MPs, although recent polls suggested Home Secretary Theresa May would be the preferred choice of Tory voters. It is party members, not the electorate, who will choose the leader, however. 

May announced her candidature this morning. Also standing are former cabinet minister Liam Fox, who resigned as defence secretary in 2011, after allowing a close friend to attend meetings, energy minister Andrea Leadsom and Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb.

Crabb, who voted against equal marriage rights, one of David Cameron's proudest achievements, is proposing to campaign with Business Secretary Sajid Javid as a future chancellor.

The first ballot of MPs will be held on Tuesday.

The Sarah Vine email

The nation was given a glimpse into the political jockeying going on behind scenes after Gove's wife, journalist Sarah Vine, accidentally sent a private email to a member of the public.

The message, which was intended for Gove and two key advisers, was quickly published. In it, Vine told her husband to be his "stubborn best" and demand a firm commitment from Johnson in return for supporting his leadership bid.

"One simple message: you MUST have SPECIFIC from Boris OTHERWISE you cannot guarantee your support. The details can be worked out later on, but without that you have no leverage," it said. 

Gove had long been mentioned as a future leader - although the odds given him by bookmakers were long - but it was reported this week that he would be standing by his fellow Leave campaigner Johnson.

It was expected that he would be chancellor to Johnson's prime minister, if the Tory membership saw fit. 

But Vine's email unveiled the wrangling still going on behind the scenes, as well as showing the important part the journalist plays in her husband's career, said The Guardian.

"Very important that we focus on the individual obstacles and thoroughly overcome them before moving to the next. I really think Michael needs to have [an aide] with him for this morning's crucial meetings," she wrote.        

Vine also said she did not think Johnson would get the backing of the party - or of the UK's biggest newspaper bosses, Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch - without Gove on his ticket. 

She wrote: "Crucially, the membership will not have the necessary reassurance to back Boris, neither will Dacre/Murdoch, who instinctively dislike Boris but trust your ability enough to support a Boris Gove ticket."

Within hours of the leak, Johnson announced that he would not be standing.

Tory leader race: The likely candidates to replace Cameron

28 June

After David Cameron's emotional resignation on Friday, the Conservatives are looking for a new leader – and a new prime minister.

Boris Johnson has long been the bookies' favourite, but a new poll for The Times gives Theresa May the lead among Tory voters.

Writing in The Times today, Chancellor George Osborne ruled himself out of standing, while it looks likely that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will rule himself in - he laid out his stall in the Daily Telegraph today.

Michael Gove, at one time expected to be a contender, is now said to have pledged to support his fellow Leave campaigner Johnson, dropping any ambitions of his own.

Here are some of the likely candidates ranked by order of their current odds with bookmaker William Hill:

Boris Johnson (Leave)

Odds: 6/5

The former London mayor reportedly wrote two versions of the Daily Telegraph column in which he greeted the start of the EU referendum campaign: one backing Leave, one Remain. He plumped for Brexit, in what was "always seen as a strategic move to put him in pole position for the top job regardless of the result", says the Huffington Post. The Times warns today that Johnson is now the "most hated man" in the City - but he remains the bookies' favourite.

Theresa May (Remain)

Odds: 5/4

A YouGov poll for The Times, out today, suggests the UK's longest-serving home secretary since 1892 is now the favourite among Conservative voters to replace Cameron. But it is Conservative Party members who will choose the leader and they weren't polled. May would be a controversial choice in one respect: she campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU and some leading politicians have called for a pro-Leave leader to take the country out of the union.

Andrea Leadsom (Leave)

Odds: 12/1

The energy minister, who spent decades in financial services before becoming MP for South Northamptonshire, had little public recognition just months ago. Her star rose during the referendum campaign, however, when she emerged as a calm and reasoned advocate for Brexit. Now she is "on the brink" of putting her name forward for the leadership, says the Daily Express.

Stephen Crabb (Remain)

Odds: 12/1

Work and Pensions Secretary Crabb is one of the youngest potential candidates at 43. The MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire is a "working-class Tory from a tough background", says the Huffington Post, and could be the unity leader the party needs just now, even though he backed Remain. Sky News believes Crabb may ask Business Secretary Sajid Javid to be his chancellor.

Jeremy Hunt (Remain)

Odds: 20/1

The Health Secretary has not endeared himself to doctors by trying to force new contracts upon them - but, with a few exceptions, medics will not be the ones choosing the next leader. Hunt told the BBC in April he expected health to be his "last big job in politics", but appears to have thrown his hat into the ring, writing a Daily Telegraph column today calling for the UK to have a "Norway plus" relationship with the EU, voted on by the general public in a referendum or a general election. Hunt is a long shot.

Liam Fox (Leave)

Odds: 25/1

An MP since 1992, Fox was previously a GP. According to the Daily Telegraph, he has already had campaign donations pledged by Tory backers. On Sunday, he told the BBC he was "thinking about" standing. Pro-Brexit, Fox has called for the deadline for a new leader, set by Cameron as October, to be extended to January next year.

Sajid Javid (Remain)

Odds: 40/1

The Business Secretary came in for a lot of flak when he was seen to be too slow to work for steelworkers when Tata announced it wanted to sell its UK operations earlier this year. A rising star of the party, he may be willing to sacrifice ambition for the top job and support Crabb, running as his chancellor, according to Sky. He backed Remain in the referendum.

Nicky Morgan (Remain)

Odds: 50/1

Education Secretary Morgan is an outside shot, but she lays out her stall on Tory blog Conservative Home this morning, making the case for "moderate, engaged, mainstream leadership". Another Remain supporter, the Loughborough MP has said one of the final two candidates should be a woman.

Graphic created by Statista for

Tory leader race: Who will replace David Cameron as prime minister?

27 June

Chancellor George Osborne could support Boris Johnson if he stands to become the next leader of the Conservatives, according to The Times, despite the two men being on the opposite sides of the EU referendum argument.

The paper says Osborne will demand the plum job of foreign secretary in return for backing his old Bullingdon Club colleague. The decision would mean cheering on a Leave campaigner after warning that Brexit would be a disaster.

Johnson will announce a leadership bid "within days", adds the Times. The former London mayor has used his latest Daily Telegraph column, published today, to set out a leadership platform, says The Guardian.          

Under the headline: "Britain is part of Europe - and always will be", Johnson claims the UK will be able to introduce a points-based immigration system while maintaining access to the European single market.

He adds that there will be "intense and intensifying European co-operation and partnership" and that EU citizens living in Britain will have their rights "fully protected".

In an attempt to appeal to the "more than 16 million who wanted to remain" in the EU, Johnson admits he is part of a "narrow majority" in favour of leaving and says that apprehension about the future is "based on a profound misunderstanding".

In short, he says, it's business as usual for the UK - or at least it will be under his leadership.

As for his deputy, fellow Brexiter Michael Gove has signalled his continued support of Johnson and is widely tipped for the role.

Speaking to the press outside his London flat this morning, Johnson insisted that "project fear is over" and repeated his insistence that non-British EU citizens in this country will have their rights protected.

Theresa May, meanwhile, who is widely seen as Johnson's only realistic challenger, "spent the weekend taking soundings from Tory MPs, including Brexiters, and finalising a pitch based on her experience as the longest-serving home secretary for a century", says the Times.

The two politicians are not the only probable candidates who will vie to replace David Cameron. According to the Daily Mail, there are "at least ten senior Conservatives tipped to be contenders". 

It adds that ministers and aides loyal to the Prime Minister have organised a "plot" dubbed "ABB" - Anyone But Boris.

The party's 1922 Committee of senior backbench MPs has recommended that nominations open on 29 June and close at noon the following day, with a new prime minister and Tory leader in place by 2 September. It wants MPs to pick two candidates to put to the wider membership – the same rules as when Cameron was elected leader in 2005.

Chairman Graham Brady said it would be "a good thing to conclude this process as soon as we practicably can" as the party and the country want "some resolution".

"That ought to mean that we would have a new prime minister before the House of Commons returns for its September sitting," he added.

Boris Johnson sitting comfortably ahead of his rivals

24 June

David Cameron will stand down as prime minister before the Conservative Party conference in October, following the British public's backing for Brexit in the EU referendum.

So who might take his place in the coming months?

Former London mayor Boris Johnson has been sitting comfortably ahead of his rivals, according to the bookmakers and the polls - although it is worth noting they had also largely favoured a Remain result.

Home Secretary Theresa May is still in second place in terms of odds, while Chancellor George Osborne has dropped from third place earlier this year down to sixth place. The Remain campaigner has taken a bruising from the overnight result.

Justice Secretary and leading Brexiter Michael Gove has replaced Osborne in the third spot.

Andrea Leadsom, who earned thunderous applause when she savaged the "undemocratic EU" at this week's debate in Wembley, has risen to fourth, followed by fellow Brexit campaigner Priti Patel.

If the early odds are right, Johnson, who once said his chances of being prime minister are as good as the odds of him being reincarnated as an olive or finding Elvis on Mars, could become leader by October.

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